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This Japanese Curry recipe is a classic comfort food and it always brings me back to childhood. It’s made with mostly mild and sweet flavors, making it pleasing for everyone in the family. The ingredients are easy to find and it’s simple enough to make on any given night. Best of all, this dish makes delicious leftovers that can be easily reheated for an even quicker meal.
Japanese curry has always been a childhood favorite of mine. It has a distinct, unique, and rich flavor that one can only get when they make this from scratch. This recipe for Japanese curry is one that my mom has made for years and I’m excited to share it with you!
To be honest, if I had to choose one dish that reminds me of childhood and my mom, I would without a doubt say it’s this Japanese curry dish. She made this often but we never grew tired of it because it’s SO good. In fact, many times when my brother and I were given the option to choose dinner, we would always request it. Often times when we came home from college, we would request this as well and bring the leftovers back to school with us.
I finally asked my mom to teach me how to make it because I knew this was one dish I would make forever. It’s pure classic comfort food for me. It makes a great amount and leftovers are even better! You know how some dishes are ‘meh’ the next day? This one is like..awesome. And we always put it over rice because the sauce that coats it is one of the best parts. I always put extra!
What is Japanese Curry?
Japanese curry is a thick curry, unlike the other kinds of curry you may be thinking of, and it is a stew-like consistency. It commonly features a stewed protein (beef or chicken), carrots, celery, onions, and potatoes. This is all served on a plate along with white rice. Traditionally, I don’t think there is celery but my mom always added it so that’s why mine has it.
Different regions and households (like ours) have a slightly different take on curry but the base recipe is generally the same.
What’s the history of Japanese curry?
According to Wikipedia, curry was introduced to Japan in the late 1800’s by the British. The officers brought the spice mix, curry, over to Japan and originally was categorized as Western food as it came from the West.
Over time, Japan adapted their own version of curry and named it karē raisu (curry rice).
S&B, the company that produces my favorite curry powder, developed these curry cubes that is essentially an instant mix for the curry roux so you can easily make Japanese curry at home.
Japanese curry is a staple of Japanese cuisine and culture and today, it extends to many other countries around the world, including many Asian countries. Which makes a lot of sense because my parents are from Taiwan and yet Japanese curry is something they make there in their households!
What does Japanese curry taste like?
I think Japanese curry has a very distinct taste and hard to describe. It lends more on the sweet side vs. savory and it’s not like spicy curries you think of when you think of curry. It is like a warm spice. A spice that warms you up like a giant hug. In general, Japanese curry is definitely more stew-like and unlike Indian or Thai curries. It’s actually pretty kid-friendly as it’s not spicy at all, unless you buy the spicy cubes.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Chuck roast – Make sure you buy the right cut of meat. This recipe calls for chuck roast. It will yield the most tender dish if you buy the right cut, otherwise, it could turn out hard as a rock and like you’re chewing on some beef jerky! It’s easy to just buy ‘beef stew cubes’ or whatever they’re called in store but don’t. I’ve done it before and it comes out horrible. Chuck roast is the best! Ask your butcher if you can’t find it.
- Beef stock/broth – try to use low-sodium stock or broth. The curry cubes already have a significant amount of salt in it so trying to cut down on salt where you are able is helpful.
- Curry cubes
Japanese Curry Cubes
These are the what the curry cubes look like. They come in different levels of heat. Mild, medium, and hot. We typically use mild, which is perfect for kids.
If you can’t find them in your local grocery store (in the Asian aisle), then you can order them on Amazon. Or, if you prefer to make your own from scratch, here is a great recipe for it from Just One Cookbook for the curry roux, which is basically what the cube is. We use the cubes because it’s how my mom has always made it and most Japanese households do the same because it’s so convenient and easy.
How to make Japanese curry
Sear and cook the meat. In a large pot, sear the chuck roast on two sides until they’re nice and brown and develop a crust. Remove from pot and set aside on a plate.
Cook the vegetables. In the same pot, add the onions, potatoes, carrots, and celery. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the liquid and cubes. Next, add the beef broth and the curry cubes. Add the chuck roast back into the pot then bring the mixture to a boil.
Simmer. Reduce to a low simmer and let simmer for 30-40 minutes until mixture is nice and thick.
Serve. Spoon over a bed of white rice.
What to put in Japanese curry? Typically it’s a protein and vegetables (onions, carrots, and potatoes). Again, you can definitely change it up if you wish (like we did by adding celery) but to get the most authentic Japanese curry, I think making it without all kinds of different add-ins first is best!
Is Japanese curry spicy? It can be if you buy the hot level of the curry cubes, otherwise it is not spicy and very mild.
Storage and reheating instructions
This will keep in an airtight container for up to five days in the refrigerator. To reheat, use the stovetop or microwave. If you find the mixture too thick, add a little more broth or water.
More Japanese recipe inspiration
- 1 pound (454 g) cubed chuck roast, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 large potatoes, quartered into 1 inch quarters
- 3 large carrots, sliced into thick rounds
- 3 celery stalks, cut into 2 inch long pieces (it’s not in the photo because I didn’t have any on hand but traditionally, we always used it)
- 2 ½ – 3 cups (1301 ml) low-sodium beef stock or broth
- 2 curry cubes, see notes section below
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large heavy-bottom pan, such as a dutch oven, heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat then brown chuck roast cubes but do not cook all the way through. Remove from heat and put on a plate and set aside.
- In the same skillet, add the onion and sauté until softened.
- Add the potatoes, carrots, and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes then add the beef stock (start with 2 1/2 cups) until it covers the ingredients. Bring to a boil then add the curry cubes. They dissolve themselves so don’t worry about them. Just throw them in. Add the chuck roast back into the pot. Once mixture comes to a boil, stir, then cover and let simmer for 30-40 minutes until mixture is nice and thick. If you see the mixture is too thick, add more liquid/beef stock to thin it out but we kind of like it thicker so it’s all preference.
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve generously over a bed of white rice.
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Photography by Eat Love Eats